Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I did it! 50,000 words in 30 days. This was my second NaNoWriMo experience. I completed it in 2009 as well. I finished today, hammering out the last 2,272 words for a total of 50,367. That's not the whole book. 2009's 50,000 words eventually ended up as a 103,000 word novel, and was rewritten six times across 2010 and 2011. It's now with my agent, I'm pleased to say. I've no doubt that this one, which I'm estimating will come in at around 75,000 words, has a lot of rewriting ahead of it too.

But the value in NaNoWriMo is in getting you to write a lot, in a compressed time. Having done this twice now I must say that I find NaNoWriMo an incredibly valuable experience. So many people start novels and never finish them, endlessly rewriting openings or crafting new openings. We all have draws full of great initial chapters. 50,000 words is a sizable enough chunk that it forces you to turn off the self editor and the procrastinator both and break past those 1-3 chapter abandoned drafts. If you can write half a novel, you can write the second half. Also, writing is a muscle and muscles improve by being exercised. Even if nothing worth saving comes out of your 50,000 words, you are 50,000 words deeper into honing your craft. Also, it makes the solitary pursuit of writing something communal. And finally it gets your butt in the chair.

Yay to all us participants. Also, I could not have done it without the patience of my long-suffering wife.


Tim Ward said...

Six rewrites? That is oddly encouraging. I'm finishing the first rewrite of last years nano winner and fear what chunks I'll have to rewrite after this draft is done. Congratulations. Thank you for your spot on Writing Excuses, btw. Your quick lesson on the Hollywood Formula was very helpful in writing the second half of this draft. I just hit my lowest point and it was a blast. Do you have any recommended resources for further study into this formula?

Lou Anders said...

Thank you Tim. I'm glad my Writing Excuses interview was helpful. For further research, I highly recommend Dan Decker's book Anatomy of a Screenplay

Reid Kemper said...

I like your quote: "Writing is a muscle and muscles improve by being exercised." I never thought of it that way. I used to write a chapter once a week but now my writing muscle needs some serious exercising!

S. L. Duncan said...

Congrats, Lou. I missed the mark this year (my first), coming in at @37k, but I've got some great momentum carrying me now. You're right, though. I think the value of NaNo is the camaraderie of it all, which sort of forces you to beat back than inner procrastinator. You should stop by tonight’s party and rub our noses in it.

Charlie N. Holmberg said...

Congratulations! And huzzah on your rewriting dedication. Quite impressive. ;)

Lou Anders said...

Reid - everything is a muscle.
Stephen - wish I could make it. 37k is nothing to sneeze at.
CNHolmberg - sitting around with a group of professional writers, they all figured 7 drafts was their average. Which is why Kindle self-publishing scares me. Hard to be disciplined enough on our own to keep rewriting if you aren't banging your head against the wall of continual rejections and have an avenue to instant gratification. Failing is a big part of learning.